tributesinwood

Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the category “Hound Trio”

Cypress Knees and a Squirrel

Yep, a few cypress knees and a little squirrel are going to round out this piece.

Cypress knees are the cone like growth on cypress tree roots that you see poking above the water surface in many southern states.  These knees are actually a favourite carving medium for many carvers and you’ll see them often carved in to little gnomes or mythical woodland creatures.  It’s kind of funny that I’ve got that turned around and am carving the cypress knee itself.  But, I think that it does add to the scene.

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In addition, the little squirrel is just starting to take shape and will eventually be either offering or teasing the little hound with the acorn that it’s holding.  Again, I think that it’s a nice little addition and something to give the standing pup something to focus upon.

Everything short of the squirrel has now had a light coat of white gesso applied and is ready for the painting phase.  As usual, I’ll paint each piece separately and then pin and glue the pieces together after painting.

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For a little added interest, there’s now a plank missing on the dock and you’re able to see the cross members and “water” beneath the structure.  That was fun to carve…I used a scroll saw to cut through the dock and then dressed up the details with a carving knife.

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By the way, my daughter and I just returned from a quick vacation in Washington DC.  What a great time.  We had never visited but I can tell you that I’ve wanted to see the Smithsonian for many, many years.  We saw absolutely everything and were completely exhausted at the end of each day.  If you haven’t been there, I can tell you that it was one of the best vacations that I’ve ever taken and would head back in an instant.  Of course, being with Emily was a big part of that.

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The Dock Underway

I spent some time working on the dock yesterday and am happy with the way that it’s turning out.  I enjoy making these little docks look old and well used with their split planks and cupped and warped lumber.  This one has a little single step on the back similar to some other docks that I’ve carved, but, in this case, a couple of cypress knees will be carved up to the step…which will be an interesting addition.

The next step will be to add a couple of piers at each side of the dock…one of which will be the perch for the little squirrel that will be added.

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Late breaking news…I couldn’t wait to do the piers so carved them up this afternoon…

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A Start to the Dock

I went down to my favourite lumber yard after work yesterday and picked up a nice piece of basswood with about a 6″x 2 1/2″ cross-section for the dock on which the three little hounds will lounge and do their thing.

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After cutting it to the approximate length that I wanted the dock to end up,  I marked the centre and cut it lengthwise along an edge to get two pieces about 1″ thick.  When you do this, remember that you are working off of a much narrower base on the bandsaw and that you need to be extra cautious with the stability of the piece.  Notice that the fence that I use has a black vertical centre section that the wood leans up against during cutting and that allows the wood to be “pivoted” against this vertical support such that you are able to track the centre line that you’ve drawn.  By the way, I always wear eye protection, never have gloves or jewellery on that can get caught in the blade and always use a “push-stick” to feed the wood when near the blade.  I’m extra careful and you should be too.

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Finally, I planed the edges and laminated the two sections together in order to get the width that I needed…and, bingo!…the start of a dock.  Those notches out of the two right hand corners are going to mark a single step up to the dock and I’m thinking that they’ll also be a good place to add some cypress knees for this Southern scene.

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The little hounds sure look at home on it.  By the way, I should mention that you might notice that a couple of the hounds are whiter…I always apply a very dilute coat of gesso to the carving prior to the acrylic paint.  This has a dual purpose for me…it seals the wood initially and makes a great base for the acrylics to adhere to, and, it tends to highlight any imperfections that I can take care of before I start applying the colour.  “Taking care of” is done with the knives and chisels that I’ve used up to this point and just a touch of sandpaper.  If you use gesso ( which you can find in any art or crafts stores ), use it thinned down considerably and be sure to also just use a touch of sandpaper so that you don’t lose all of the detail of the carving that you’ve done.

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And the Squirrel Chaser Makes Three…

The three amigos are all together now and nestled into one another nicely.  I still need to come up with that little squirrel trying to share an acorn with her buddy.

I’ll need to get some larger basswood to start making up the dock base…and, then, a nice piece of hardwood to create the decorative lower base.  It’s a fun summer project.

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A little Sleepier…

Sleepy is getting a little sleepier with some more detail. Just a tiny bit of cleaning up to do and these two will be ready for some paint work. I’m coming along with the detail of third of the Trio…the squirrel’s friend…and will get a shot of that little pup on the website shortly.

It sure is nice sitting outside and carving…it’s going to be hard to return to the basement when the nice weather fades away.

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My, What Big Ears…

The little sleepy hound has found quite a set of ears.  Not sure how she can possibly sleep at all with all of that reception power.

This is a lot of fun.  The Howler is sitting partially on the one ear, which is ruffling it up pretty dramatically.

Both ears, once again, were cut out roughly on the bandsaw and then “fitted” to the head by using pencil lead on the dogs head where the ear was to be placed…rubbing the ear up against the pencil lead to leave marks where the high points are…chiseling away the high points…and, then repeating the process again about a thousand times…or maybe fifteen times ( I lost count ).  Anyways, it’s absent minded relaxation and the end result looks pretty nice.

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Sleepy Hound

The sleepy little pup of the Trio is shaping up now.  It always amazes me that once you start putting a face onto a carving, even if it’s only the first rough “blocking” of the face, it changes everything about the carving.

 

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This little one will have eyes that are droopily open ( I’m pretty sure that’s a carving term ) and looking up and to the side to see what all the howling is about.  Additionally, the right ear will be draped over a paw and flowing onto and over the dock…with just the tip of the ear in the “water.”  The left ear will be similarly draped over a paw and on the dock, but, in this case, the Howler will be sitting partially on the ear…another reason for that sideways glance.

Wrinkles to Howl About

Just wanted to get a quick photo up of the little howler…I really like this little pup.  I’m anxious to get him painted up but will force myself to wait while I get the other two hounds detailed in.

I changed up the ears a bit just to make them balloon out a bit more and I like the result.  The idea of gluing ( I actually used two part epoxy for strength ) the ears on after carving worked out really well.

Lots of wrinkles to howl about…

 

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The Howler

The little howler is coming along with some detail today.  As I mentioned earlier, the ears are being attached separately so that the grain of the wood follows the direction of the ear…and ends up being a stronger carving.

Below is a picture that will give you an idea of how that is done.  The ear was first cut out from a piece of wood in the general shape that I was looking for.  Then I took a piece of pencil lead that you can buy from an art shop and scrubbed that lead all over the area on the dog where I wanted to place the ear.  The ear blank was then positioned where I wanted it to eventually land and pressed ( and wiggled a bit ) against the leaded area on the dog carving.  You guessed it…you end up with lead markings on the underside of the ear that marks all of the high points that now need to be shaved away.  As you keep doing this, the underside of the ear eventually gets dished and shaped accurately to fit the contour of the dog carving.  And, voila…you have a pretty decently fitted ear and you can then continue to carve the exterior of the ear…which I did making folds and hollows.

By the way, the fine black lines are from a wood burning tool used to clean up the deep cuts of the wrinkles…also, by the way…those are Peggy’s hands doing the modelling.  This is a real team effort.

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A Rough Looking Trio…

The three little Basset Hounds are roughed in and I’m quite pleased with the way that they are looking.  It’s incredible how often you have to stop carving just to look at them and chuckle.

“Sky”, the howler, completes the trio.  As usual, I first cut the outline on the bandsaw.  This photo shows the first cut and I later, very carefully, drew on the plan ( from the top ) view of a rough outline and cut that out on the saw as well.  I say “very carefully” as you need to take a great deal of care on the bandsaw and always ensure that you are sawing against a stable, flat, base on the figure.  Anything else just does not give you the control that you need…remember, these tools are powerful and can quickly pull a workpiece out of your hands if it does not have a completely stable and flat base.

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After doing some initial roughing with the Typhoon bit on the Foredom tool, Sky started to take on a nice shape.  Whereas the other two, and most of the dogs that I carve, go through the “pig stage”, Sky looks as though she’s going through a seal stage!  One of the reasons for the seal look-alike is that I’m going to have the front legs pulled close together with the little paws turned outward.

Now, come on…does this already look cute and hilarious, or what?  Don’t you want to run down to the pet store right now?

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